New King James Version (NKJV)
5 “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. 8 But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.” When He had said these things He cried, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
This passage of Scripture I have read many times in my life, but has led me to contemplate our ministry and a current project we are undertaking with a new appreciation and understanding.
Specifically I was struck by the four types of soil on which the sower went out to plant:
– good ground
We are currently working on a neighborhood project to plant a community orchard. Just as with farmers we are not going to the lot and planting trees…there is a great amount of preparation work to ensure the soil is ready for planting, so that the conditions are right, and the trees and plants will produce a great amount of fruit.
With our orchard plot we will have to take several actions:
– Test the soil to ensure it has the right amount of nutrients and acidity levels
– Remove an old foundation and rocks from the lot
– Clear out any garbage, weeds, and thorn bushes
– Cultivate the lot, so that the entire plot is good ground versus just small sections
If we went out today and just planted the likelihood is that many trees and plants would die, but with cultivating the entire lot, the trees should be able to take root and grow to produce much fruit.
When entering our neighborhood we knew that we would face challenges in sharing our faith and reaching some people. We know if we rush in and go house to house to offer our services and share our faith that some may be receptive, but others may refuse us indefinitely. You see as people we all are like the plot of land described in this passage on the sower….some of us have fallen to the wayside, some of us have experiences in our lives that have hardened us to others leading us to live in mistrust and building barriers of protection around us, and then there are times when we become ensnared in situations that leave us trapped, weary, and burdened. Then there are some that are ready, longing for help, direction, guidance.
As neighborhood ambassadors we are not planted here to quickly toss out seeds and then quickly harvest those that are ready and consider we accomplished the task. Rather we must enter our neighborhoods as if it is a plot of mixed ground that needs to be cultivated for a planting and harvest…how do we do this?
We must first evaluate our neighborhood:
– Who out there are partners in our ministry?
– Who is ready to be reached – longing for direction and hope?
– What areas are off the beaten path, that need to be brought in as part of our outreach?
– Where do we need to build relationships, break down barriers, and build trust?
– What things ensnare the families in the neighborhood – how can we help free them from those things?
Relationships and trust are the foundation to our work here and they are not built in weeks or months, but it can take months and years of cultivation, however, with God’s guidance and the support of prayers, resources, and fellow workers in time we will have a beautiful that bears much fruit in this community of Hopkinsville, KY!